GETTING OUT OF BED IS HARD - JOE SWEATPANTS
Last month I saw a tweet that read “Oh you spit? Are you a crack-rapper or an Earl-Clone?”
I spend more time than I used to think I would interviewing the guys from Over Everything. Mainly I guess because they make the time to and other artists seeking writerly attention would be wise to internalize that. Anyway, a couple meet-ups ago Jay Kasai was saying that Tru Speech is playing a contrarian and kind of exaggeratedly obtuse version of himself on the Midnight Run Podcast. This idea plays out for me even more fully on the new EP Getting Out of Bed Is Hard where Tru Speech in re-dubbing himself “Joe Sweatpants” (and the album Getting Out of Bed is Hard, a play on I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside) both cops to and disproves the notion that he is an “Earl Clone”.
On his previous album Forgetting Tomorrow he actually kinda sounded like an “Earl Clone” (I like Speech’s content better but I’m IE like that…) and that’s part of what makes this new album such an inside joke: he’s doing the opposite here. From the title to the new moniker, I read it as a tongue-in-cheek dismissal of those who would dismiss Speech as a copy of anything. The album is not some misanthropic hipster-hop screed about how trying at life sucks but rather a well-written continuation of the life described in Forgetting Tomorrow – a life of sensitivity, frustrated expectations and materialist reality in California’s Inland Empire.
The album’s songs are named after the days of the week and that’s one way to listen to the project: even though the topics from song to song are actually deceptively consistent, the trick the album pulls off is making 7 songs largely about the same topics sound like 7 different days and that’s kind of the point. Here’s the same relationship situation he was complaining about on Tuesday, now coming to an emotional crescendo on Thursday culminating with our protagonist crying in the parking lot. Here’s the same reluctance to start the week you had on Monday now becoming an aggressive will to party on Saturday.
The other way to listen to the album is sonically (admittedly a somewhat redundant sentence but hear me out). I went to Kasai’s studio earlier this year and he kept ribbing Speech about properly optimally using one’s voice as an instrument and after hearing this EP I think I understand the contours of their debate a little more: Speech sounds sonically most “radio-ready” when he calmly deploys his baritone but he actively tries styles BESIDES that one on this EP even when on songs where his “older” approach would be more “musical”. In a world where Eminem 20 years ago all the way thru Kendrick today (for prominent examples off top, among other stratospherically huge hip-hop artists of the 21st century) make albums that are more audio-movies than collections of songs Speech’s approach makes a lot of artistic sense: his voice breaks, he’s in octaves that are less comfortable than others, he cries and screams and Method Man-growls and the multiple sides of a dude that’s deeper than he ever lets on bubble just under the surface of every line. Nabeyin and OhGoshLeotus produced the album's music with Kasai in the executive role and handling session work (I gather?) plus a guest spot that he kills; all these dudes are scary good at balancing a project's tunefulness with the cinematic composition of a larger piece. Never to be forgotten, Nicklaus Gray does his Nate Dogg thing on a couple cuts as usual; protect this motherfucker at all costs.
The other thing I listen for with this record is the narrative which I find easier to follow than other attempts at concept projects I heard this year. The writing is vivid, detailed and specific and on its own merits captivates me more than most verses I heard in 2019, even when talking about stuff I usually think I’m bored of like “here’s a creative way for me to call an ex a hoe”. The melancholy at the heart of the record is a critique of capitalism and not even in a politically charged way but in the sense that Speech in his downbeat, introspective musical sighing perhaps speaks for a generation of people displeased at what life has to offer, a life in which even just day to day experiences are an emotional challenge.
Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdculture hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers